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Dell told to stop hassling its customers

Court says to switch off automatic dialling systems

Consumers have a right to be left alone by Dell which has been using automated dialling systems to hassle them on their mobile phones, a US appeals court ruled. A Pennsylvania woman, Ashley Gager, complained that Dell hounded her with more than 40 calls in less than three weeks to collect a delinquent debt after she had sent a letter asking it to stop.

Circuit Judge Jane Roth said Congress intended the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 to protect consumers from unwanted automated calls, a conclusion supported by a 2012 Federal Communications Commission ruling in an unrelated case. She rejected Dell's argument that because the law did not address whether consumers may revoke consent to be contacted by an autodialing system, such a right to revoke did not exist.

Gager had in 2007 filled in her mobile number in place of her home number on an application for a Dell credit line and bought thousands of dollars of computer equipment. After Gager defaulted, Dell began leaving the automated messages, and continued doing so even after receiving a letter in December 2010 from Gager asking it to stop, the papers show.

US District Judge Robert Mariani dismissed Gager's lawsuit, saying that she should have told Dell at the time she gave her mobile number not to make automated calls. The new ruling said that Dell will still be able to telephone Gager about her bad debts account, but it can’t use an automated dialling system to do so.

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